What content trends are prevalent in the fast food industry? Which are the top brands on social, and what are they doing well? We looked at the data to find out. 

A century ago the commercialized convenience of getting a quick, quality, and affordable to-go meal did not exist in America. In 1921 White Castle opened its doors in Wichita, Kansas and is credited with being the first fast-food chain.

Now fast food is a global phenomenon. Forecasts predict the U.S. quick service restaurant category (QSR) will exceed a market value of $223 billion within the next two years.

With established brands like McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Chick-fil-A continually expanding and new brands entering the market, what are the key ingredients driving web and social performance?

We wrote a report to answer all these questions and more. Here are some of the key insights.

The top fast food brands 

When looking at the top 10 brands, McDonald’s leads the way with 77,000 articles mentioning the golden arches – leaving a broad gap for the runner up, Taco Bell with 30,000 articles.

High-performing stories on social media were quirky, human interest pieces or innovation-focused. The top 10 headlines also emphasized quality of food and service.

A featured altercation between a McDonald’s employee and a customer garnered 5.6 million interactions – about a sixth of the brand’s 35.6 million engagements for the year. Additionally, two stories in this list actually are not true.

Emerging trends in the industry 

Interest is rising for fast casual – defined as dining establishments offering limited service, more detailed interiors, and longer menus at a higher price point. Vegan and vegetarian dining is also on the rise in this sector.

In terms of top stories, the “McDonald’s Says Goodbye Cashiers, Hello Kiosks” article ranked first for the keywords in this segment, and it also made the top 10 results for the general fast food keyword search above.

Menu expansion also relates to another major trend: fast food offering vegan or vegetarian dining options.
Vegan product offerings have debuted at several of the major fast food chains this year. It’s also helped put emerging fast food establishments on the map, such as Plant Power Fast Food breaking ground in November 2017.

As we can see, there’s a good amount brands can learn from analyses like these, and they are continued in more detail in the report.

Want the complete picture? Download the full report now

Benedict Nicholson

Benedict Nicholson is the Managing Editor at NewsWhip. An Englishman in New York, he is interested in the intersection of PR, brands, and journalism, and the trends and innovation around that.

Email Benedict via benedict.nicholson@newswhip.com.

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